Thursday, May 05, 2005

Daily Egyptian: Administrators worried about minorities in History Department

Again, the History Department mess continues. The Black American Studies program is trying to get Doctor Bean run out of the History department because he brings things to light that might make black students uncomfortable. Does Rev. Joseph Brown, the Black American Studies program director, think that bringing America's past of mistreating its black citizens is particularly comforting to white students? I can tell you that it isn't. But do we complain when these parts of our history are brought up? No. We learn from it. Perhaps it's time for Rev. Brown to stop hiding behind a shield of victimization. Perhaps he should bring up black racism in their studies classes. Perhaps even in history classes, as Dr. Bean tried to do.

Rev. Brown, the History department does care about its minority students, but it does not do this by shielding them from their culture's own past. That's not caring. That's blinding them to their people's own past mistakes. If the actions of a subset of the Nation of Islam is to be hidden and forgotten, should we also not forget and hide the horrors of the Tuskegee experiments? How about the lynchings, the Jim Crow laws? Should white people not learn about the problems of their own past? Or are you only looking for "history for me, but not for thee?"

Daily Egyptian writer Moustafa Ayad closes the piece with calls by the head of the Graduate and Professional Student Council to unionize the graduate students. Will this really help to keep the dark spots in black history from being revealed? Will it allow them to remain ignorant of their past? If so, perhaps then a unionized graduate student body should be avoided. As historians, we must see the whole story, warts and all. This article shows that some people want to pretend that those warts do not exist.

No comments: